Ham radio operates even when other modes of communications fail.

When other modes of communication fail, Ham radio operates due to its inherent strength, especially during a calamity, says K. Raghavan, the first Ham in Idukki district.

Mr. Raghavan, 66, settled in Cheruthoni, says that when disaster hits an area, mobile phones are often jammed due to excess call traffic or damaged optical fibre cables. Ham radio operates even in these circumstances as it is wireless.

“Moreover, we are a community sans boundaries. There is no caste, creed, sex or nationality for a Ham,” he says. A Ham license is issued by the Union Ministry of Communication after a test, and intelligence and police verification. Those who have criminal records cannot obtain a license. Once you are a Ham, you always remain a Ham. That is the reason for the increasing number of Ham world over, he says.

Mr. Raghavan came to Idukki from Ottappalam in 1967 for construction work on the Idukki hydroelectric project. He later made a record of sorts by communicating with the world outside from the backward, hilly district. Mr. Raghavan said that he had heard about Ham radio at a younger age from his father, who was a military officer.

He says that he made a wireless set on his own in 1957 and during the same period he came to know more about the Ham Radio Club from a bank officer in Ernakulam. With his help, Mr. Raghavan passed the Ham radio examination. In those days, he says, the messages were handed over using Morse code. “It will work in any adverse weather conditions,” he says.

Later, when he settled in Cheruthoni, the town closest to Idukki dam, many joined him as Hams. Raghavan had tirelessly worked to inform the authorities about the importance of Ham radio, especially in mountainous terrain. He made a prototype of the Ham radio and in 1980, when C. M. Stephen, then Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, visited Idukki he explained the need for a microwave tower in the district headquarters. “Within six months, Mr. Stephen completed the process for setting up the microwave station in the district headquarters. It was this simple initiative that laid the foundation for modern ways of communication in the district.”

“Ham operators arrive at a disaster spot when other means of communication fail as the Ham message is passed to operators nearby and later to others as well,” says Mr Raghavan.

In the aftermath of the Poochapra landslips in Idukki district last October, it was the Ham operators who began rescue operations first as per an official request when all other means of communications were cut off. Now, Raghavan is proud of having catalysed the growth of Ham radio in Idukki district, which has nearly 30 Hams today.

Keywords: Ham radio

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